The 31st annual Marine Hotel Association (MHA) conference and trade show is scheduled to take place next week in Orlando, April 10-12, bringing together suppliers in hotel and food and beverage services, along with procurement executives from cruise companies. The MHA is a not-for-profit international organization run by and for the cruise line industry and dedicated to enhancing the overall quality of the cruise experience.

The event is being held at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, and offers a community-like feeling. Exhibitors can look forward to all breakfasts, dinners and events included in their exhibition package. Booth sizes are limited and the trade show is moderately sized.

“The MHA is an opportunity to meet in person with hundreds of suppliers who understand the logistics and needs of the cruise industry, talk about our current and future business and to learn more about new and innovative products that are offered,” said Bruce Tschampel, director of shipboard services, Lindblad Expeditions and a board member of MHA. “The program of events from breakfast, the trade show and including the evening activities, keep the group together and allow for an opportunity to talk further in informal gatherings amongst both suppliers and cruise lines, making it quite unique and is a valuable organization for our business. “

Exhibitors range from Coca Cola and Nestle to smaller, family-owned companies like Casa DiLisio Products, providing gluten-free sauces to most of the major cruise lines. There are also linen suppliers, flatware companies, meat purveyors and a whole host of companies looking to supply the hotel and food and beverage segments of the cruise industry.

“The interactions taking place at this show are on a special platform, which allows even the smallest and newest of vendors to place their wares in front of potential customer, at a cost which is very manageable, by trade show standards,” commented David J. Granek, president of Carisam-Samuel Meisel. “It is impractical and, frankly extremely difficult, in any other venue, to be as visible and have such an opportunity to meet and discuss individual products.”

A charity golf tournament is held on the weekend before the opening cocktail hour on Sunday night. Monday morning follows with a key industry breakfast, with the trade show running the length of Monday before the entire group gathers for an off-site and always very unique Monday night gala dinner. Tuesday features a similar program.

“The MHA is all about building relationships and learning about new things going on in the industry.  At this point, this will be my 19th show and each one has allowed me to meet new people, see old friends and learn something about the cruise lines,” said Scott M. Novak, national account executive for travel retail at MillerCoors.

Added Granek: “Additionally, the MHA’s sole purpose is to create and promote dialogue between vendors of all sizes, and cruise lines, also of all sizes. The MHA’s beneficiary of every dollar raised through sponsorships and registrations is the education cruise line employees and almost every single dollar of that money is generated by vendors.”

MHA has had a long running scholarship program, sponsoring shipboard and shoreside employees and their professional development programs. Learn More Here.